How To Choose Your Insulin Pen

General Guidelines

choose your insulin penYou can lead a happy, long and productive life despite having diabetes. The key is keeping your blood sugar level as normal or near normal as possible.  You can do this by eating healthy, keeping yourself active, exercising regularly and using proper medication, including insulin. A growing number of Americans have chosen insulin pens over the traditional syringes-insulin vials. Obviously, choosing your insulin pen should not be a hit and miss affair!

 

Think COST-EFFECTIVE (in the important long run)

  • Although insulin pens are initially more expensive than syringes and insulin vials, insulin pens can be more cost-effective in the long run. This is especially true if you are like many people who may resist injections with a syringe. Most find it too painful or hard to do properly, or just too scarey. This may cause your blood-glucose levels to spike and affect your health negatively. Should you prefer to shift to pens, use them consistently to have better control your blood-glucose levels.
  • Reusable pens are cheaper than disposable pens, but they are slightly more complex to use. You only have to change the needles and insulin (which may be covered by health plans and Medicare prescription drug coverage). The pen can last for several years.
  • Disposable pens pre-filled with insulin will cost more but offer you ease of use. Unlike reusable pens, you don’t have to load it with new insulin cartridges, which may be quite difficult for people who have serious problems with dexterity, hearing and vision. Therefore, this may make disposable pens a better value if you have these issues.

Think COMPATIBILITY

  • Is the pen you’ve chosen “compatible” with the brand and types of insulin or mixture of insulins prescribed by your doctor?  For instance, some pens will only take Eli Lilly insulin cartridges while others may take only Novo Nordisk insulin cartridges.
  • Insulin cartridges are available in 1.5mL or 3.0mL and you have to make sure that they will fit your pen.  A 1.5mL or 150 U insulin cartridge will not fit in a 3.0mL or 300 U pen.

Think USER-FRIENDLY

  • The numbers on the dosage dial should be easy to read and, therefore, a big yes for older diabetics
  • The insulin pen itself should be small enough to be carried with ease and used without attracting unwanted attention. In the case of most children, the pens are designed NOT to look like a medical device.
  • The pen should indicate by an audible click or a clear sign that the needle has been attached and that the full amount of insulin has been injected.
  • The device should be able to finely and accurately adjust the insulin dosage in 2, 1 and ½ increments.
  • The pen should indicate how much insulin is left in the cartridge or pen.
  • The shorter and finer needles used in some pens make shots almost painless.

Think SMART

Insulin pens are getting smarter by the day. New digital insulin pens were recently unveiled in September 2011 at a meeting of the the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.  Among other innovations, the pens record your last 100 injections including how many units of insulin were injected and the date and time of the injections. You can even transfer this data from the insulin pen via a USB cable to a computer.